Mount Abu, the lone hill station in the desert State of Rajasthan, made headlines this week when it recorded the highest-ever rainfall on a single day. Torrential rain has been wreaking havoc in south-western parts of the State, leading to floods and devastation. The popular hill spot was cut off, and about 1,500 tourists, mostly from Gujarat, were stranded for several days.What happened?Mount Abu is situated at an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level on a rocky plateau of the Aravalli Hills, in Sirohi district, bordering Gujarat. Often referred to as an ‘oasis in the desert,’ the route to Mount Abu passes through the Abu Road town on the plains, from where the hill station is 28 km away. After continuous rain for several days, the hill town received an unprecedented 770 mm of rain on July 24, inundating low-level areas between the hills and creating panic among locals. Streams of water flowed with a ferocity not seen before, as roads were submerged and people were forced to remain indoors.Does it get heavy rainfall?During five days since Sunday, Mount Abu received a whopping 2,116 mm rainfall, breaking all previous records. According to the meteorological department’s data for 1901-2000, the average annual rainfall at the hill station is 1,554.2 mm. The average rain during the monsoon months of July and August every year has been registered at 573.2 mm and 600.3 mm, respectively. Amid the heavy rain, life was thrown out of gear and the supply of essential items was hit because of floods at adjoining places such as Pali, Jalore and other parts of Sirohi district. Telephone, cellular phone and Internet services went down, while the prices of commodities of daily use shot up.How did it impact the town?Two anicuts on the outskirts of Mount Abu and the famous Nakki Lake situated at the centre of the town were overflowing with rainwater. While markets and offices remained shut for most part of the week, all schools and colleges were closed as a precautionary measure. Medical staff at the local government hospital were asked to cancel leave, as there was a fear of outbreak of diseases after the water receded. Heavy rain sent boulders hurtling down on the Abu Road-Mount Abu road, 6 km from the entry toll booth. As a result, Mount Abu’s contact with the rest of the district was cut off. The road was cleared on Thursday with the help of excavators and stone crackers. Over the weekend, vehicles were moving at a snail’s pace at the site of the landslide. Heavy vehicles were asked to stay away as a major crack had developed on the road. The administration has asked travellers to exercise caution in view of the possibility of rocks falling from a height.Why does it need protection?Mount Abu is a popular destination, especially among tourists from Gujarat. More than 30 lakh domestic and international tourists visit the hill station every year. The highest peak is Guru Shikhar, situated 5,650 feet above the sea level. The oldest mountain ranges of Aravalli are home to rivers, lakes, waterfalls and evergreen forests. The forests of Mount Abu were declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1980, covering 290 sq. km of the mountain. It has rich flora and fauna.It has sub-tropical thorn forests in the foothills and sub-tropical evergreen forests along the water courses and valleys at higher altitudes. A variety of rare and endangered species of animals are found here, and the leopard is the apex predator. As environmentalists describe the unusually high rainfall in Mount Abu as a fallout of global warming, the popular hill station will need to protect its rich vegetation of coniferous trees and flowering shrubs in order to maintain its cool climate.